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Time for action

Published Aug 13, 2013 07:07am


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A MACABRE dance of death continues to grip the country. There is little hope that it will be stopped. Deaths have become mere statistics while the country is being turned into a killing field.

The killing of some 30 policemen in Quetta in a suicide bombing during a funeral and the death of 11 young boys in a terrorist attack at a football stadium in Karachi were perhaps the two most gruesome incidents highlighting the latest bloody wave of violence. Not a single day passes without terrorist strikes taking their toll.

From the storming of the D.I. Khan jail to the brutal slaughter of foreign mountaineers in the remote northern areas, the incidents illustrate the growing stridency of the militants and collapsing state authority. Even the country’s capital has virtually been under siege with the looming threat of a major terrorist attack. This is perhaps one of the most dangerous points in the country’s history. An implosion is waiting to happen, threatening the unity of the country.

Yet there seems to be no realisation on the part of our political leadership of the gravity of the situation. There are mere words of condemnation; there is no action. While the country has been drenched in blood the prime minister was away on a weeklong private trip to Saudi Arabia. There seems to be no urgency in dealing with the scourge threatening national security.

Confusion and dithering have gravely affected the nation’s response to this daunting challenge. The policy disarray in various state institutions has become more pronounced with the latest surge in terrorist violence. The prevailing inertia in the government and widening differences among the political parties ruling different provinces have resulted in complete policy paralysis, providing the militants the space and environment to operate more freely.

The audacious raid on the D.I. Khan jail and the escalation in targeted killings of policemen in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to a large extent are the result of the unwillingness of the new provincial government to take on the militants. The soft-pedalling of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has led security agencies to lower their guard thus giving new impetus to militancy in the province.

Despite the intelligence report about the impending jail raid, the administration failed to take appropriate measures to prevent the attack. A demoralised and ill-equipped police and other civilian security agencies could hardly match the heavily armed and well-trained raiders.

Most appalling, however, is the callous attitude of the political leadership towards the victims of terrorism and the security personnel killed fighting the militants. The funeral of the policemen — many of them senior officers — killed in Quetta last week took place without any senior member of the provincial or central government attending it.

Perhaps, it is far worse in KP where dozens of policemen have been killed in targeted attacks by the militants over the past two months since the installation of the PTI-led government.

Unlike in the past during the Awami National Party government, let alone attending the funeral of policemen who have been killed, no minister even visits the venue of a terrorist attack. Since the outbreak of militant violence in the province, the police despite their few resources and lack of counterterrorism training have fought valiantly. They have been on the frontline in the battle against the Taliban in the province. Many high-ranking police officers are among those who have fallen victim to targeted killings.

But the morale of the KP police has now hit a new low under the PTI-Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) administration. Instead of strengthening the capacity of the police force, the ministers spout the mantra of ‘peace negotiations with the Taliban’ after each terrorist attack. KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak is not even willing to call the Taliban (who themselves have claimed responsibility for most terrorist attacks), an enemy.

How can one expect the police to defend the post when the administration appears so eager to make peace with the militants? Can one blame the prison guards and the policemen for not offering any resistance to the D.I. Khan jail attackers and for fleeing the scene and taking off their uniform? The present PTI-JI government seems to be reminiscent of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal rule that allowed the Taliban to expand their influence in the province.

What is most pitiable is that we don’t even honour and acknowledge the sacrifices of the officers and soldiers killed in the battlefield or in terrorist attacks. More than 4,000 soldiers including nine general officers have so far been killed battling the insurgents. But hardly ever have the country’s top political leaders bothered to condole with the families of those killed, let alone visited the battle zones.

It is left to the military to honour their martyrs. The annual Martyrs’ Day observed by the military is never attended by the top political leadership. At the ceremony, the table for the families of those killed becomes longer each year. How would they be feeling about the rants of some leading political figures that ‘it is not our war’? Certainly such a flawed narrative will not boost the morale of the young officers fighting the enemy in the treacherous tribal regions. If it is not our war then what are they fighting for?

With the spreading of militant violence the last thing Pakistan can afford at this point is to continue engaging in this inane debate of ‘whose war is it’. This becomes even more ridiculous as Pakistan’s own unity and integrity is under threat. The latest surge in terrorist attacks across the country should serve an eye-opener to political leaders still confused about the enemy. There is no time to lose as the country is fast sliding into chaos. The government must act before it is too late.

The writer is an author and journalist.

Twitter: @hidhussain

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (13) Closed

Aamir Aug 13, 2013 05:33pm

A very good writeup highlighting the most stinking problem we have. PTI has so far been a great disappointment. It looks like they are even very solid with the negotiations concept. They are just scared.

bangash Aug 13, 2013 07:34pm

PTI are a party of cowards.

Umair Khalid Aug 13, 2013 08:46pm

Good article. The govt. needs to create a new Anti_terror squad the will specialize in rooting out terrorists and getting rid of them. they should get assistance from China or any other country who are specialists in such squads. we definitely need more action and less words.

Jawwad Aug 14, 2013 12:28am

How can it be not our war when the people being killed and affected are all ours?

Ejaz Satti Aug 14, 2013 02:21am

AOA,Whenever we switch on tv there is bomb blast,killing,kidnaping,incidents and so many same things in pakistan.And same situation is going for the last couple of years,now it looks like uncontrolable disease,who will control it no one knows,i'm sure it all is designed outside the country to destabilize pakistan,my leaders are not loyal and compitant because their families are abroad where there is designing happens,as nawaz sharif has interests with uk,ch.nisar family is in usa,khawaja asif family in usa and all they always moving there,it is not happening in the world that leaders having interests in other countries and are able to develop own country.

aditya Aug 14, 2013 04:34am

Too Late

Taji Aug 14, 2013 04:53am

Great article. A must read for every politician.

Sehar Aug 14, 2013 06:10am

Bravo Zahid Hussain

We are with you in this Jihad aganist Kharijites

shahid Aug 15, 2013 01:35am

last thing Pakistan can afford at this point is to continue engaging in this inane debate of

Aamir Aug 15, 2013 01:55am

Agree with you 1000000000000% if not more..

Dinesh Aug 15, 2013 11:50am

@Jawwad: ... and killers are your own people too.

Askari Aug 15, 2013 01:44pm

You seem to be the lone crusader fighting terrorism with your pen, and an effective pen it is indeed. But unfortunately leaders' heads buried in the sand they can neither see nor hear your desperate calls. God help Pakistan.

Imran Sheikh Aug 15, 2013 08:40pm

I fail to see the connection between policemen failing to stop attackers during a jailbreak, which is their duty, and the KP government talking to the militants. All wars, eventually, are settled through talks. Fighting is just to achieve a good negotiating position during the talks that must follow. The worst fall-out of the inability of the mighty ISAF forces to conquer decisively the militants in 11 years of fighting is the militants have lost their fear of the worst they could face, and that makes negotiating with them tougher. Prolonging this fight, unless a full military attack to wipe them out irrespective of losses of any kind is sanctioned, and hardening a position against them by the new government, will only lose any minor goodwill that may allow a sensible negotiation. Let us also remember that these militants are also Pakistanis. Severely disgruntled, but Pakistanis, and cutting them out of the mainstream will lose the country the benefit of whatever their capability, which should instead be turned to the country's advantage. That is what man management is all about, isn't it?